Kaitlin were identified as the same age and sex

Kaitlin M. Adams

ANTH 1050-850

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January 28, 2018

 

In
Richard III: we are definitely burying
the right body, archaeologists say, author Lin Foxhall presents evidence
that she, and a majority of anthropologists all believe proves that the body
found in the Leicester car park was that of Richard III. While not one single
piece of evidence proves the identification, the author goes on to detail all
of the pieces of evidence that draw her to the conclusion that the probability
of the body being Richard the III’s is nearly a 99.9% chance. Archaelogists
examined historical documents detailing the location where Richard III was
buried, and the skeleton was found in that exact spot. The particular grave in
which he was buried was hurriedly dug, unlike the straight line of other graves
as that location. Radiocarbon dating dated the body to the correct timeframe, the
bones were identified as the same age and sex of Richard III, and the skeleton
was shown to have battle wounds and scoliosis like historical documents
portrayed. Arguably the most undeniable evidence detailed in the article is the
DNA testing matched to two relatives of Richard III currently living in England.
All three individuals share a rare set of mitochondrial DNA passed down the
female lineage of Richard III’s descendants. All of the aforementioned evidence
led anthropologists to believe that the body was correctly identified as
Richard III.

            While this article presents sufficient evidence to
convince most anthropologists of the ID, it is important to consider the reasons
why some do not agree. Richard III: We’re
burying the wrong body is a rebuttal written by Dominic Sellwood in which
he describes the reasons he does not believe the body is Richard III’s.
According to this article, the radiocarbon dating presented the wrong timeframe
to match the death, but was adjusted because Richard III was known to eat an
abundance of fish. Aside from this information, the DNA matching brought up
many questions. The DNA taken from the skeleton did not have the fatherly DNA
that anthropologists expected it to have if it was Richard III. The DNA also
did not match the hair and eye color that Richard III reportedly had. Foxhall also
mentions a flaw in looking for relatives of Richard III; researchers only
looked in Europe. Sellwood describes how Richard III’s familial DNA has been
passed on for 500 years, and that there are likely people worldwide that share the
same DNA, which should have been considered when looking for living descendants
of Richard III. While this author provides some good counter arguments to
considers whether the body was identified correctly or not, I still believe that
Foxhall provided nearly undeniable evidence that the body is that of Richard
III.

            This article relates to several key topics covered in
chapters 1-3. Anthropologists used a holistic approach when determining the ID
of the skeleton. They considered Richard III’s health, where he lived, his DNA,
his family, and all historical data associated with him. Archaeology, one of
the four fields of anthropology, is defined as “the study of the past cultures,
primarily through their material remains” (Embers, pg. 6), such as the skeleton
of Richard III. Archaeological site excavation, “the careful removal of archaeological
deposits; the recovery of artifacts, ecofacts, fossils, and features” (Embers, pg.
35), was done in order to remove the skeleton for DNA testing and to prepare
for reburial. Radiocarbon dating, the method used to date organic remains was
used to determine an approximate age of the skeleton. “After an organism dies, it
no longer takes in any of the radioactive carbon” (Embers, pg. 39), meaning
that once an organism dies, the carbon begins to decay. Scientists are then
able to determine how much carbon is left in the organism, thus the age of the
organism. Lastly, DNA was a major deciding factor of the ID of the skeleton.
DNA passes down from generation to generation, so the two females can tie their
DNA back to Richard III.

            While I appreciated the authors ability to present the
evidence in a simple way so those who are not anthropologists can understand
easily, I do believe that this article lacked acknowledgment of the counter
arguments. This article would have been better understood had the author
included the reasons why people do not believe the body is Richard III’s, and
gave evidence to prove those reasons wrong. Additionally, I thought that she
could have explained more in depth how each piece of evidence was gathered,
primarily how the skeleton was dated by radiocarbon dating. This term is probably
not well understood by the average person. I thought it was extremely
interesting how the archaeologists were able to analyze historical documents
and gain clues that led them to the exact burial place of Richard III. This
article goes to show that when presented with the same evidence, archaeologists
may interpret the data different. The outcome of different studies done by anthropologists
is subjective to those who conduct the study, and I believe that is a very
interesting quality of Anthropology; every person brings a different point of
view to the table.

 

 

 

 

 

Works
Cited

Ember, Carol R, et al. Anthropology. Hoboken: Pearson Education
Inc, 2015. Print.

Foxhall, Lin. “Richard
III: we are definitely burying the right body, say archaeologists”. Telegraph News. Telegraph Media Group, 25
March 2015. Web. 28 Jan 2018.

Sellwood, Dominic. “Richard
III: We’re burying the wrong body”. Telegraph
News. Telegraph Media Group, 21 March 2015. Web. 28 Jan 2018.